OFWs repatriated due to COVID-19 pandemic reach 416,000 — labor chief


Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - January 24, 2021 - 12:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — The number of overseas Filipino workers repatriated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic has reached 416,000 to date, the country's labor chief said Sunday.

Such a figure is an increase of nearly a hundred thousand from the last reported in November 2020, and comes almost a year since government first made repatriation efforts related to the COVID-19.

Filipinos from Wuhan City in China, where the deadly virus had originated, were flown back to the Philippines in February, before the outbreak reached its shores.

Secretary Silvestre Bello III over CNN Philippines said OFWs displaced due to the pandemic has reached 600,000, with 100,000 initially still applying for repatriation.

Some, however, had backed out after being vaccinated in their respective countries, which would mean that there are only 50,000 left waiting to return to Manila.

"Dahil vina-vaccine sila..lalong lalo na sa Middle East, they opted to stay na lang and look for 'yung kanilang reemployment," he said. "Ngayong na-vaccinate na sila, 'yung kanilang chances of reemployment are very high."

(Because they are now vaccinated, they are choosing to stay, especially those in the Middle East because this has increased their chance of finding new work.)

Several countries across the world have begun early vaccination for the COVID-19 through emergency use approval, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

At home, various issues continue to hound the Duterte administration's vaccination program, such as uncertainty over preference to Chinese-made jabs, storage and distribution, to name a few.

In a January 17 release, DOLE said it is expecting 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs to be repatriated in 2021.

Bello's reported figure of overall Filipinos displaced due to the pandemic is not far from an estimate by a labor official in September last year.

Assistant Secretary Dominique Rubia-Tutay said as many as 700,000 OFWs could lose their jobs with many countries figuring in recession as a result of the months-long lockdowns.

The Philippines has had a long reputation of being an exporter of human resources, with the statistics office estimating 2.2 million workers abroad in 2019.